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Tinsley blockaders charched with aggravated trespass

Stop Deportation | 30.03.2009 14:27 | Iraq | Migration | South Coast

Seven anti-deportation campaigners who blockaded an immigration detention centre at Gatwick airport earlier this month today pleaded guilty to the charge of 'aggravated trespass' at Crawley Magistrates Court. Six of them locked and glued themselves to the gate of Tinsley House on 17th March in an attempt to prevent Iraqi refugees being taken to Stanstead airport to be forcibly deported on a special charter flight to northern Iraq later that day (see All seven have been released on conditional discharge and ordered to pay the court fees. Two other protesters, who were also arrested on the action, have pleaded not guilty and are due in court again soon.

The blockade two week ago, which lasted for over 6 hours, managed to prevent a WH Tours couch and G4S vans from leaving the detention centre. Soon after the 20 or so protesters were removed by police, however, the coach left for Stanstead, carrying between 8 and 12 Iraqi refugees due for deportation. Others detainees were taken from Campsfield, Colnbrook and Dover detention centres, although some had outstanding appeals and judicial reviews. At least two men won last-minute High Court injunctions and were taken off the flight.

Over 400 people have been deported by charter flights to Iraqi Kurdistan in the last eight months. Campaigners argue that deportation charter flights amount to 'collective expulsion', which is prohibited under Protocol 4 to the European Convention on Human Rights. The UK signed the Protocol in 1963 but has never ratified it.

One of the campaigners, Richard Whittell, said:
"The fact that the UK government is still refusing to ratify Protocol 4 is very telling about its policy on immigration and asylum. Despite the Home Office's mantra that deportations are dealt with on a case-by-case basis, there is evidence that, in many cases, deportees had outstanding appeals or were awaiting judicial reviews but were still deported because the charter flight had to be filled."

Charter flight deportees are usually notified in their Removal Directions letter that "removal will not necessarily be deferred in the event that a judicial review is lodged." Chapter 60 of the Enforcement Instructions and Guidance, which explains the notice that must to be provided of any removal and how the UK Border Agency should respond to any challenge to this, states that chartered flights "may be subject to different arrangements where it is considered appropriate because of the complexities, practicalities and costs of arranging an operation."


1. For more details on the Tinsley blockade, see our previous press releases:

2. Photos of the action are available here:
High-res versions are available on request.

3. For more details on Iraq deportation charter flights, see:

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Surely you mean "plead guilty"?

30.03.2009 15:15

Otherwise that's a surprisingly speedy trial.